Cubs' Ortega savors chance to finally show what he can do

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs' Rafael Ortega rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

    Chicago Cubs' Rafael Ortega rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/29/2021 8:43 PM

Cubs outfielder Rafael Ortega, who has started four straight games in the outfield and homered on Saturday, is quite a story of perseverance.

The Venezuela native made his major league debut in 2012 with Colorado, but didn't return to the majors for four years. He got some decent playing time with the Angels in 2016, appearing in 66 games, but was out of a job at the end of the season.

 

He played for Miami in 2018, Atlanta in 2019, and also spent time in the minors with Texas, St. Louis and San Diego. He didn't even get invited to an alternate site last season, but was able to stay sharp by playing in the Venezuelan winter league.

So the path that led him to circling the bases at Wrigley Field on Saturday was a long and tedious one, needless to say.

"Normally in baseball, it's all about opportunity sometimes," Ortega said through a translator. "People don't usually get the opportunities to show off what they can do. For me specifically, I'm been blessed to have certain opportunities now with the Cubs to display what I can do. It's just about that, having the opportunity to do things and I'm doing that now."

Ortega said he's glad to have a couple of Venezuelan teammates on the Cubs with Willson Contreras and Adbert Alzolay. But he said he hasn't crossed paths with them much in the past since the two veteran Cubs live in the U.S. and he returns to Venezuela in the offseason.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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